The Creative Corner · Vintage Fashion · Vintage Needlework

1940s Style Trendy Brooch

A 1940s leaf lapel pin or brooch to enhance your wardrobe.

Brooches are trendy right now. What used to be called a lapel pin, these ornaments can decorate a top, a belt, a purse, or the hip of a skirt or pair of dress pants. With a little thread and a crochet hook, you can make this 1940s style trendy brooch for yourself.

The pattern calls for size 5 pearl cotton, which I had plenty of. You could also use size 10 crochet thread, but it won’t have the sheen that identifies pearl cotton. Also, you may find crochet thread more difficult to work with, since it is a stiffer thread.

When I read the pattern it said that each of the three leaves would take 20 yards of thread. Not the way I crochet, they didn’t! Here are the threads I pulled to make this pin. I only used the first two.

Five skeins of orange shiny pearl cotton thread, with a crochet hook diagonally across them.
I pulled five skeins of pearl cotton for this project. I only needed the first two.

I started crocheting from the left to the right, thinking that each leaf would need a bit of each color, leaving the extra DMC 326 for the bow at the bottom. If I’d known this pattern required less than two of these skeins of DMC pearl cotton #5 (at 27 yards per skein), I would have made this in teal. I liked these oranges, but I loved the teal pearl cotton I found in my stash. This also would have looked great made completely in DMC 326, which are the two at the end.

One of the great things about vintage patterns is that they don’t care what color you use for projects. All your clothes are black and a set of snowy white leaves would look awesome in a pin? Then use white. You love the deep jewel colors? Find a burgundy or emerald pearl cotton and go to town. I love the colors of autumn, so when I found five coordinating colors of rusty orange my heard skipped a beat. I gatherred them up and went in search of a suitable crochet hook.

You Will Need

  • Two to three skeins pearl cotton #5 in the color of your choice (or 1-2 balls of 5 pearl cotton) If you need pearl cotton and don’t know where to find it, you can get beautiful DMC or Finca perle (pearl) cotton from the Tatting Corner.
  • A size 7 metal crochet hook like you see in the photo above
  • A nice-sized safety pin or actual pin back
  • A needle for sewing everything together
  • Matching thread if you don’t want to assemble this completely with the pearl cotton. (I used the pearl cotton.)

What to do

First of all, this is a tricky pattern. If you are a new crocheter, take it slow and follow the directions exactly. Count a lot. If you don’t have the correct number of stitches at the end of a row, try again. If you decide to push on anyway, know that your leaf will be just as pretty when it’s finished. It won’t be as large, however. It will be shorter and a bit less wide.

How do I know? Because I had to make one of the leaves three times before I got the hang of the pattern. I hope to save you the same trouble.

You are going to make three leaves and sew them together, and then make a bow to decorate the bottom. Ready? Here we go. One 1940s style trendy brooch awaits your trusty crochet hook.


  • st: stitch
  • sk: skip
  • lps: loops
  • sc: single crochet
  • hdc: half double crochet (thread over hook once, insert hook in the stitch, and pull thread through, thread over hook again and draw through all the loops on the hook at once.
  • dc: double crochet

Leaf (make 3)

Row 1: Starting at the tip of the leaf, ch 6. Working back up the chain, skip 1 st, 4 sc on ch, (1 sc, ch 3, 1 sc) into the end stitch. Coming up the other side of the starting chain, work 3 sc on the other side of the chain. Work the following rows in the back loops only to form ridges.

Very beginning of a crochet leaf pattern in orange thread. It looks like an oval.
First row of the leaf. You are working down one side of the beginning chain and back up the other side.

Note: Working the stitches into the back loop of the previous row forms ridges that look like the veins of a leaf. If you can’t do this or it feels uncomfortable, then don’t. Your leaf will be just as pretty without the ridges.

Row 2: Ch 1, turn, sc in back lps of each last 4 sc, (1 sc, ch 3, 1 sc) in tip 3-chain, then sc in each of the next 4 sc.

Row 3: Ch 1, turn, sc in each of last 5 sc, (1 sc, ch 3, 1 sc) in previous row 3-ch, sc in each of the next 4 sc.

Row 4: Ch 2, turn, 1 sc on the first of the two chains you just made, then 1 sc in each of the next 5 sc, (1 sc, ch 3, 1 sc) in previous row 3-ch, sc in each of the next 5 sc.

Row 5: Ch 2, turn, 1 sc on chain as before, 1 sc in each sc up to the tip, then (1 sc, 3 ch, 1 sc) in 3-ch from previous row, then 1 sc in each sc up to the second stitch from the end. [You are leaving one stitch unworked at the end of the row.]

Row 6: Repeat Row 5. [Each row should have one more sc than the preceding one, so this would be 1 sc in each of the next 7 sc.]

Row 7: Repeat Row 5. [Crocheting 1 sc in each of the next 8 sc.]

Row 8: Repeat Row 5. [Crocheting 1 sc in each of the next 9 sc.]

Row 9: Ch 2, turn, 1 sc on ch, 10 sc, (1 sc, ch 3, 1 sc) in 3-ch, 9 sc.

Row 10: Ch 1, turn, 10 sc, (1 sc, ch 3, 1 sc) in 3-ch, 10 sc.

Crocheted point of a leaf in golden orange thread, showing progress from the beginning.
Your leaf should look something like this.

Row 11: Ch 1, turn, 11 sc, (1 sc, ch 3, 1 sc) in 3-ch, 10 sc.

Row 12: Ch 1, turn, 11 sc, (1 sc, ch 3, 1 sc) in 3-ch, 10 sc.

Row 13: Ch 1, turn, 11 sc, (1 sc, ch 3, 1 sc) in 3-ch, 10 sc.

Row 14: Ch 1, turn, 11 sc, (1 sc, ch 3, 1 sc) in 3-ch, 10 sc.

Row 15: Ch 1, turn, skip last sc, sc in next 10 sc, (1 sc, ch 3, 1 sc) in ch-3, 10 sc.

Row 16: Ch 1, turn, sk last sc, 10 sc, (1 sc, ch 3, 1 sc) in ch-3, 9 sc.

Row 17: Ch 1, turn, sk last sc, 1 sc in each remaining sc up to the point, (1 sc, ch 3, 1 sc) in 3-ch, 1 sc in each sc through third from end. [You are leaving two sc unworked at the end of the row.]

Row 18: Repeat Row 17. You should have one less stitch than the row before.

Row 19: Repeat Row 17. You should have one less stitch than the row before.

Row 20: Repeat Row 17. You should have one less stitch than the row before.

Row 21: Repeat Row 17. You should have one less stitch than the row before.

Row 22: Repeat Row 17. You should have one less stitch than the row before.

Row 23: Repeat Row 17. You should have one less stitch than the row before.

Row 24: Repeat Row 17. You should have one less stitch than the row before. Fasten off.

Once your three leaves are complete, sew them together with the center leaf over the other two. See picture below.

Three crocheted leaves are arranged on top a tatted doily.
The three leaves are complete and ready to sew together.

Making the bow

This part is a bit complicated. You are going to make a small circle of stitches and go around and around those few stitches to make a tube. The easiest way to do this is to go into the stitch holding your hook from the outside pointed in. Pick up the stitch you need to work, and carefully tilt your crochet hook upward so you don’t snag anything else along the way. Then complete the stitch.

Crochet cord in orange pearl cotton.
This is what the cording looks like. This will form the bow at the base of the pin.

The bow: Ch 2. Make 2 sc, 1 hdc, and 2 dc in the first chain.

Using the back loops only, the ones closest to the center of the circle, make 1 dc in each of the 5 stitches.

Continue around and around, 1 dc in each dc, until you have 10 1/2 inches of rope. Close the end with slip stitches and fasten off.

Note: Crocheting into the back loop only makes the rope look spiraled and fancy. If this is too difficult, don’t do it. Your rope will still look nice and shiny in pearl cotton.

Make a short length the same way, measuring only 1 1/2 inches long. Fasten off the same way as the longer cord.

Fold the longer cord into two loops with two ends, as you see in the photos. Take a couple stitches through all the loops to hold them. Then use the shorter length around the middle to form a completed bow. Sew it in place invisibly.

I knotted the shorter piece around the longer one, and then took the ends and sewed them first to the bow to hold it still and then I used the rest of those ends to sew the bow to the leaves. Here’s what it looks like when it’s completed:

Completed pin with three leaves and a bow, all in shades of golden orange.
All finished and ready to wear.

Turn the completed pin over. If you think some of the pieces are too loose, use some extra pearl cotton or thread to tack them down. Then sew the pin to the middle of the pin so that you can attach it to whatever you want. Voilá! You did it! You are now the proud owner of a true 1940s style trendy brooch.

If you’d like to try another vintage crochet project, take a look at my post on 1950s Crocheted Glass Covers.

Gluten Free Adaptations · Recipe Collections · The Vintage Kitchen

Oatmeal Gem Muffins

If you love oatmeal in a bowl but don’t have the time or inclination to make it every morning, these oatmeal gem muffins might be the perfect solution. Only slightly sweet, these muffins taste like you’re eating prepared oatmeal from the palm of your hand. Best of all, you start them overnight. Then you only need to stir in a few ingredients in the morning and bake them.

Three golden oatmeal gem muffins on a white plate. The photo shows only part of each muffin.
Oatmeal gem muffins, ready to eat!

Published in 1919, this recipe was called Oatmeal Gems. Gems are muffins baked in cast-iron gem pans. A gem pan could look like a muffin pan, or it could turn out half rounds of bread. Usually, a gem pan contained some kind of open area to allow air and heat flow around the individual muffin cups. If this concept fascinates you, The Cast Iron Collector web site gives more information on gem pans than you will ever need for a vintage home kitchen. After all, the well-equipped home kitchen contained one gem pan. Just one. The vintage kitchen provided no room for storing extra, unneeded utensils and pans. (Thankfully, I have a garage that I use to do just that.)

Muffins in the vintage kitchen

In the vintage home, muffins accompanied a meal, or they provided part of a teatime heavy snack. Today we eat muffins as a standalone meal replacement and although that may be a vintage reality, it was never touted as the ideal. When I made these I grabbed a couple and ate them with a fresh cup of coffee. That was breakfast. 

Eaten hot from the oven, these muffins provided the cereal part of a good breakfast along with fruit, coffee or hot cocoa, and perhaps eggs. Later in the day, served at room temperature or re-warmed in the oven still hot from cooking dinner, they saved the household cook from making a second type of bread on a non-baking day. Since they aren’t very sweet they would go well with a dinner menu. 

These muffins taste sweeter at room temperature, although they also go down well with a smear of butter. They are chewy, dense quick breads.

The recipe basics

The recipe starts with sour milk. You can easily make sour milk yourself by adding a tablespoon of apple cider vinegar to a cup of milk. Since the recipe calls for a cup and a half of milk you would add a tablespoon and a half of vinegar. Regular white vinegar will work, too, if you don’t have any apple cider vinegar. However, apple cider vinegar seems to produce a slightly thicker product.

Bowl of oatmeal mixture with a measuring cup of flour next to it and an empty teaspoon measuring spoon on the table.
Oatmeal and sour milk, with baking soda and egg added and flour standing at the ready.

The next morning you mix in some baking soda, an egg, salt, flour, and sugar. Then you bake them. I used a mini muffin pan, which helps them cook all the way through. Since this is an older recipe it offered no oven temperature outside of “hot.” I baked these minis for 15 minutes at 375º to give them a bit of brown on top. I was using gluten free flour. If you use regular flour, baking them for 13 minutes might be enough.

Mini oatmeal gem muffins still in the muffin pan, fresh from the oven.
Fresh from the oven with gluten free flour, which gives less of a browned top than regular wheat flour.

Whether you eat them with your morning coffee or tea like I did, or incorporate them into a proper vintage meal, these oatmeal gem muffins are good to have in your repertoire. They mix up easily, cook quickly, and need only a few everyday ingredients.

Oatmeal Gems

Small oatmeal muffins for breakfast or anytime.
Prep Time15 minutes
Cook Time15 minutes
Course: Bread, Breakfast
Cuisine: American
Keyword: muffin, oatmeal
Servings: 8 people


  • 1 mini muffin pan


  • 2 cups rolled oats
  • 1 ½ cups milk
  • 1 ½ tbsp apple cider vinegar
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 cup flour Gluten Free 1 to 1 flour works fine.
  • tsp salt
  • ¼ cup sugar


  • 1. Mix the apple cider vinegar and the milk. Let stand ten minutes to sour.
  • 2. Place the oatmeal in a medium bowl and add the milk. Stir, cover, and set in the refrigerator overnight.
  • 3. In the morning, preheat oven to 375º F.
  • 3. Add baking soda, egg, flour, salt, and sugar to the oatmeal mixture. Mix well, and fill the wells in the mini muffin pan.
  • 4. Bake mini muffins for 13 – 15 minutes. When they are done, the tops should pop back when pressed lightly. Or use the tried and true toothpick method to check.


This recipe was tested with Bob’s Red Mill 1 to 1 Gluten Free Baking Flour. Use gluten free oats if you need them. 

If you try these, please leave a comment to let me know how you like them. When I make them again I may sprinkle a little sugar on the tops before baking, or I might stir some mini chocolate chips into the batter. This is a variation unknown in 1919, since chocolate chips weren’t invented until 1937.

Interested in more vintage cooking? Check out this recipe for Breakfast Cocoa or vintage Iced Coffee!

Short Stories · The Magazine Rack

The Little Miser Part 3

The Little Miser, Part 3, concludes this World War I story of home sacrifice and family bonds. Does Hippity-hop’s work on her brother’s behalf go to naught? Does she save him? If you missed the start of this series, you can find Part 1 here and Part 2 here.

If you enjoy these stories, let me know in the comments. I have hundreds more.

Closeup of Hippity-hop, the main character in The Little Miser short story.
Hippity-hop hoards her wealth.

Our Story, Continued….

Hippity no longer talked to the flowers, the bees, the butterflies, and the chipmunk. Rags was her only confidant. Once or twice, when she knew they were alone, she permitted herself the luxury of tears. Rags understood how she was suffering, and licked her hands and face. He begged her, in dog talk, to unburden her mind, and tell. He wanted her to be happy again. Then they would romp and play with Daddy and big brother Dick and Hippity would laugh aloud when he chased butterflies. 

Hippity-hop struggled through the succeeding days, her definite purpose marooning her from the mainland of sympathy. Muvver and Daddy thought she was a miser. It was best so. What Dick thought she had no way of discovering, but her mind grasped at a straw. Perhaps he would understand that what she was doing was for him.

At the thought a roseate glow of righteousness enveloped her. In a few days the two months would be up, and she would be able to give him the money he needed. He would be free –– free from the persecution of Jerry Stewart, from the danger that Jerry represented! Then he would tell Muvver and Daddy that she wasn’t a miser, that she was a good little girl, and that she did love her country.

But a few days was a long way off. Supposing––and self-sympathy plunged deep into her mind, crowding out less thoughts––supposing she should die before! She had never seen death, but her imagination luxuriated in the picture of her flower-covered lifeless body wept over by a sorrowful family. When she lay dead they would understand how they had wronged her. She worked herself up into an ecstasy of anticipation until she actually believed her days were numbered. The seraphic exaltation inspired by her impending fate was tempered by a very human satisfaction over the grief and remorse her maligners would justly endure. They would learn too late that she had loved them.

But how would they know? There was only one way. Rags would tell, but they wouldn’t understand him. She must leave a letter. They would read the letter. It would make them weep, and then they would wish they had been kinder. 

Her curriculum at school did not include spelling. She almost decided not to die when she thought of the stupendous task the composition of a letter would entail. Yet she had the heroic persistence which overcomes difficulties. She shut herself in her room. The epistle took her the better part of the afternoon. The sheet was wet with tears of self-pity as she wrote:

deer Mother      Ime not a myzer––I luv you and dad and dick and i luv my Kuntree     I sayvd the muny for dick
Your  ded  chile
Elizabeth Browne

She must not incriminate Dick in any way. He would understand, and in his joy at the deliverance he would tell of her noble sacrifice.

She folded the note and put it into her bank.

Two evenings later, the date marked on the calendar with Daddy’s cross, found her still alive and the possessor of nine dollars and thirty-five cents. She was almost sorry that her last will and her dramatic exit from this vale of tears would have to be sacrificed. But Dick would be saved! That was all she wanted.

It was the hour before dinner. Jerry was dining there that evening. With the money tied in a handkerchief she knocked at Dick’s door, and entered. The glory of her accomplishment bathed her cherubic face. Without a word she untied the handkerchief, emptied its contents on Dick’s bed and with shining eyes looked at her brother. 

She expected an explosion of gratitude, but received only a look of mystification and heard a surprised throaty exclamation.

She gasped in a painful effort to enunciate words. Her face became tragic with her purpose. 

“The money––you know––the money––you––for Jerry!”

She broke down.

His face went red and then very white. His throat swelled. His hands trembled as he asked in a strained whisper:

“How did you know?”

“I heard you an’ Jerry in the study. Jerry said you’d have to go to prison, if you didn’t pay him in two months.” Her voice became tense with the horror of her next disclosure. “I heard him ask you to steal the money from Daddy. I knew you wouldn’t do that.”

“And that’s why you saved the money?”

A sad little affirmative nod was all she could manage. Then, with the thought that she had hurt her brother, she ran to him, threw her arms round his neck, and sobbed her heart out on his shoulder. 

“Dick, Dick, give the money to Jerry! I don’t want ‘em to put you in jail!”

Tears gathered in big brother Dick’s eyes as he realized what the poor little thing had gone through for his sake.

He couldn’t talk, but his shoulders squared with a firm resolve as he picked her up and carried her into the dining room, where Muvver and Daddy and Jerry Stewart awaited them.

Tears were still in Dick’s eyes as he held Hippity close, but in his carriage was a manliness which commanded attention.

“Mother––Dad––I’ve come to tell you the truth.”

There was a warning gesture from Jerry, who suddenly paled, but Dick ignored it.

“This blessed baby,” he kissed Hippity’s hand reverently as he spoke, “has been suffering martyrdom for two months on my account. If I had only known that it was my conduct which was causing her sorrow!” Jerry had started nervously on his feet. Dick went on. “I gambled––played poker––with him.” Scornfully Dick made Jerry the target of his gesture. “I lost. I paid him all I had and still owed him eighteen dollars, for which I gave him my IOU. From time to time I paid him what I could. He threatened me with arrest if I didn’t pay all in two months. Tonight the two months are up. I still owe him seven dollars and a half.”

Without a word Daddy took the money from his pocket, handed it to Jerry, who was standing cringingly and sullenly, and pointed to the door. As the door closed on Jerry Stewart the silence was broken by a long, gasping sob of relief from Hippity.

Muvver took the little girl from Dick’s arms. Daddy and she kissed her in reparation for the wrong they had done her.

Dick stood at a distance. He was not fit to join the family circle. Hippity-hop saw him standing shamed, grieved, remorseful. Turning from her mother to her daddy, she spoke imploringly.

“I want you to love Dicky, too.”

Her word had become law. 

Short Stories · The Magazine Rack

The Little Miser Part 2

Welcome to The Little Miser, Part 2. We continue with The Little Miser, a short story by Ray Unger published in 1919. While it was published in January of 1919, it was written during World War I. If you missed Part 1, you can find it here.

A little girl sits on her bed, next to a piggy bank and a calendar. Piles of coins scatter in front of her. A red cross poster is on the wall. Illustration from The Little Miser short story.
Hippity-hop tries to conceal her hoard as she is discoverer by Muvver.

The Little Miser, continued….

Hippity grasped her mother’s skirts and looked pathetically, appealingly into her puzzled eyes. Her words came in a hurried, alarmed, entreating crescendo:

“Oh no, no, no, Muvver! Don’t take me out of school! I want to go to school! I don’t want to stay home! I’ll be polite to Jerry!”

Her excitement increased. Her need was imperative. 

Mother took her up in her arms.

“I want my little girl to be happy. Surely you may stay at school if you wish.”

Hippity cuddled gratefully in her mother’s arms.

In the meantime her hoard was slowly growing. Her calendar told her it was a month since she had overheard the angry words which came through the study window.

Her heart bounded with glad anticipation. She saw the time ahead when she could again help her country.

It was a period of thrift and saving for which Hippity was grateful. Everybody expected little girls to help the war. All the children were taking money to school for the Red Cross. They were nearly all buying Thrift-Stamps. All but her. She had to bear the reproachful looks of her teacher and the scathing denunciation of her patriotic schoolmates. Still her money went into her little bank. Every night after Muvver left her she counted it, and every night she marked her calendar. She wasn’t sure how much she needed, but she would try to find out. 

She waylaid Dick one evening. Her manner with him was gentle and sympathetic. 

“Dicky, if you had all the money you wanted, wouldn’t that be nice?”

“I should say so. Are you going to tell the fairy to give it to me?”

“How much would you like?”

Without hesitation, with a face of imperturbable gravity, he answered.

“I’d want nine dollars and thirty-five cents.”

Her heart bounded with glad anticipation. She saw the time ahead when she could again help her country. Last night, when she counted her hoard, it had totaled six dollars and twenty-three cents.

Next day Miss Whitney, the teacher, called her at recess.

“Elizabeth, your mamma signed the Red Cross Pledge for you, didn’t she?”

The little girl nodded a silent yes.

“But you haven’t been paying lately.”

Elizabeth, nobody can need the money more than your country. It is wrong to save it, or use it for anything else.

Elizabeth looked at her teacher, looked for some sign of sympathy, but met a cold wall of censure. Her heart went dead within her when Miss Whitney continued:

“I know your mother and father wish you to give the money to the Red Cross. I’m sure they didn’t forget to give it to you.”

Elizabeth broke down. She would throw herself on Miss Whitney’s mercy. Her voice was convulsive. Miss Whitney had difficulty in distinguishing the words.

“Muvver – gave – me – the money – and I’m saving it. I can’t ever, ever tell you what for.”

The teacher was moved.

“Elizabeth, nobody can need the money more than your country. It is wrong to save it, or use it for anything else. You’re not a true little American girl if you do.”

Elizabeth’s silence was dogged. Nothing could make her stop saving. But she must hurry – save faster. Nine dollars and thirty-five cents wasn’t so awfully much. It wouldn’t take so very long. If people would only let her alone! Then she could help her flag again. She would sell her hair ribbons. Hadn’t Susie Black offered her an orange for the red one when it came off the other day? She would gather them together and sell them for a penny apiece. All the girls had pennies nowadays. If only Miss Whitney wouldn’t tell Muvver that she wasn’t giving any money to the Red Cross!

But Miss Whitney must have done so. That night, after Muvver had tucked her in bed and left her, Elizabeth took out her bank. She felt secure. Not once had she been disturbed in her nightly task. The coins were strewn over the white counterpane, and Elizabeth was arranging them in systematic piles, when the door quietly opened. Muvver stood in the door looking silently at the little girl, who was clutching the coins and counterpane in a vain effort to hide her occupation. Fear held the child’s heart, but obstinacy veiled her face.

Her face was that of a miser, avid with possession, and fearful lest she be dispossessed of what was rightfully hers.

Mrs. Browne’s startled cry, “Elizabeth!” evoked no response from Hippity-hop – merely a tighter clutching of her hoard.

“What are you doing with that money?”

The little girl gave no answer.

It was a Hippity-hop whom Muvver had never seen who pulled the coverlet and its contents close. Her face was that of a miser, avid with possession, and fearful lest she be dispossessed of what was rightfully hers. Silent until now, as Muvver approached, her expression of fear increased and she let forth a shrill scream which formed into articulate words:

“You shan’t have it! it’s mine!”

In her perturbed state she was praying that Muvver would be angry. If Muvver put her arms around her as she always did when her little girl was in trouble, Hippity might break down at the dear touch, and tell. That she mustn’t, mustn’t do, no matter what happened! She kept saying it over and over to herself. She wanted Muvver to love her, and yet she must make Muvver hate her!

The unhappy little girl’s mind was seething with contradictory thoughts. If Muvver took the money away from her, what then? She thought of big brother Dick and set her teeth. She wouldn’t let Muvver have that money––no! not if she had to fight and scratch and scream! Dick must have it! She was like a hunted creature at bay, fighting for her young.

Her thoughts were interrupted by Muvver’s soothing voice. “Elizabeth, dear, of course it’s your money. Mother doesn’t want it. Tell mother all about it. Tell her what’s troubling her little girl!”

With eyes distended, Hippity watched her mother come close. She mustn’t let Muvver take her in her arms and kiss her. She saw what was coming. Muvver was standing over her, a world of love in her eyes, her arms extended. A touch of the loved hands, and Hippity would be lost!

“No, I won’t! Don’t touch me! I just want my money! I don’t want to give it to the Red Cross! I want it myself!” 

Her voice was raucous with excitement.

Mother was nonplused. The child was too agitated to be argued with, too irresponsible to be punished. There was nothing to do but leave the room. She looked in later, before retiring. Elizabeth was asleep, the little face flushed, the hands tight, the lips now and then muttering indistinguishable words.

In the morning Hippity’s heart was thumping, but she presented a stolid appearance. She knew Muvver would discover that the hair ribbons were missing, and question her. She must show care. When Muvver put the expected question, Hippity at first refused to answer. When Muvver insisted, she curtly responded:

“I sold ‘em. I want the money.”

Mrs. Browne’s tone abruptly changed from love and distress to censure. It was a case for discipline. 

“Elizabeth, if there is anything you want to buy with that money, tell mother. I must know! If you won’t tell me, tell Daddy.”

Her request was met with silence. 

“You will, won’t you? You know Muvver and Daddy love you, and would do anything for you.”

Muvver was again speaking in the affectionate tone that Hippity feared. She must make her change it.

This was a danger which Hippity had not foreseen. She mustn’t let Muvver’s tears move her.

She muttered between her lips, her voice a monotone, her face surly and unresponsive.

“I don’t want to buy anything. I just want the money.”

“Then I’ll have to believe that my little girl is a miser. She doesn’t love her daddy and mother and brother; she doesn’t love her country; she loves only money.”

In her extremity the tears gathered in Muvver’s eyes.

This was a danger which Hippity had not foreseen. She mustn’t let Muvver’s tears move her. She didn’t trust her voice. A mask of imperturbable composure hid her inner trembling. She wished Muvver wouldn’t cry. If Muvver cried she didn’t know how she could hold out. But she would –– she would hold out forever! If she told, what would become of Dick?

Mother sent to Miss Whitney the Red Cross money that Hippity owed. She discontinued questioning the child, but Hippity knew she was being watched. 

Till next time….

Discover the end to this thrilling tale in the next blog post.

These stories were short enough to read at one sitting, but rather long when posted to a blog. Dividing it into several shorter segments gives enough to keep up with the story, but allows the reader to stop and pick up with the next segment if time is short.

One or two of these stories fit perfectly with a fresh cup of hot coffee or tea. Thanks for sticking with me through The Little Miser, Part 2, and I hope you enjoy Part 3.

Short Stories · The Magazine Rack

The Little Miser from 1919

In an earlier blog post I talked about the lure of the Twentieth Century magazine stand. You can read that post here. Today begins a three-part post where I give you one of the stories from World War I: The Little Miser, by Ray Unger. The story was illustrated by Edmund Frederick. Although The Little Miser dates from 1919, it was written during the war itself. The illustration dates from 1916. Enjoy this dip into magazines’ literary past with The Little Miser from 1919.

1916 illustration of little girl counting money on her bed while her mother looks on. A red cross poster hangs above her bed.
Muvver catches Hippity-hop counting her pennies when she should be asleep.

The Little Miser

by Ray Unger

A loud, angry exclamation which came through the open study window produced upon Hippity-Hop the effect of a physical blow. She started back, clutching Rags tightly. Her frightened blue eyes grew black. Her lips parted as she sharply released her breath. Rags snapped an answering bark, but Hippity-Hop’s warning finger quieted him. The child and the Skye terrier understood each other. 

Words of recrimination hot as live coals dropped from Jerry Stewart’s lips. It was hard to believe! Jerry’s image rose before her as she listened in horror. He was a big, reticent youth whose beetling black brows overshadowed deeper gray eyes. She had thought him her brother Dick’s friend, but friends didn’t use such ugly words to each other. At his denunciation a hitherto unknown passion was born in her soul – a strong hate of the young man who dared assail dear, kind, big brother Dick in this unwarrantable fashion – Dick, who loved everybody and whom everybody loved. When she heard Dick, who was afraid of nothing, answer in trembling tones of fear, she marveled. A hard look came into her eye as the conversation continued. The voices ceased. The wedge of reality had pierced her soul. Laughing, singing Hippity-hop Sunbeam, who spent much of her time talking to the flowers, the butterflies, the birds, and the chipmunks, became a responsible Elizabeth.

To big brother Dick she was “Hippity-hop,” to Daddy she was “Sunbeam,” but Muvver called her Elizabeth. The combination of names gives one a fair idea of six-year-old Elizabeth Ellison Browne.

She knew now why he was pale and silent, why Jerry Stewart haunted him like a shadow.

Only this afternoon she had romped with Rags. She had grown tired and was now sitting under the study window. Snub-nosed, happy, and elusive as a flea, but with less responsibility than that insect, the presence of Hippity-hop Sunbeam had brought gladness to the Browne household. Muvver encouraged the sedate company manners of Elizabeth and was answerable for the tight little pigtails done in a pretzel, with the concession to Hippity-hop Sunbeam of two huge red bows. The buds of the old-fashioned Berkeley garden had seemed to expand their chalices to drink in the merriment of her laughter and the rhythm of her dancing footsteps. She had vied with the sunshine in shedding brightness.

Now all was changed. She spoke to Rags in a whisper:

“Rags, we mustn’t tell anybody!”

Her bright cherubic face was contorted with dread.

Silently she went into the house. Her eyes sought big brother Dick. She knew now why he was pale and silent, why Jerry Stewart haunted him like a shadow. Muvver and Daddy thought he was studying too hard. She had heard Muvver tell Daddy.

Clenching her little fists and tightening her lips, she muttered:

“I mustn’t, mustn’t ever tell!”

Her ready laugh did not come, but she smiled politely with her lips at Daddy’s jokes. Daddy and Muvver looked concernedly at each other, and then at her. The usual after-dinner romp was dispensed with when Daddy realized Hippity-hop Sunbeam’s half-hearted attempt to show her enjoyment. 

Muvver carried the child off to bed. Bedtime was the hour of confidences between the two. She questioned her little daughter, but her questions elicited no answers. Elizabeth’s pulse was normal, her throat could not have been better; there was no fever, no sign of illness. Reassured by her investigations, Muvver tucked the little girl in bed after hearing her simple prayer. 

Hippity-hop listened as her mother’s footsteps descended the stairs, threw the covers back, sprang from bed, took her bank from the bureau drawer, and hurried back to bed. After listening furtively for any interruption, she emptied it of its contents and started counting the money. That was a laborious task. The nickels and dimes were easy enough, but the pennies and quarters and one half dollar puzzled her. She knew she had to do it alone. Rags was the only one who knew, and he couldn’t help her. After several attempts she counted out four dollars and ninety cents. That was a beginning. The Red Cross would have to do without her money. She couldn’t help it. Her throat constricted with the thought. 

She carried her calendar carefully to her room. By marking each day as it passed, she would be able to work more intelligently toward the fulfillment of her plan.

When Muvver looked in before going to her room, a blanket-tossed bed gave evidence of Elizabeth’s restlessness, but Elizabeth was asleep. 

Next morning a serious problem assailed Hippity-hop. Jerry had said he would give Dick two months. How would she know when the two months were up? A solution came to her. She would ask Daddy for a calendar. If he asked her why she wanted it, she mustn’t tell him.

As Daddy was leaving, he made matters easier by saying as he kissed her:

“Well, Sunbeam, what shall Daddy bring home for his little girl?”

“I’d like a nice calendar with big black numbers on it.”

Daddy laughed heartily.

“Your modest wish refutes the feminine reputation for extravagant demands.”

That night, when Daddy gave her the calendar, she asked:

“Will you put a cross on yesterday?”

Daddy acceded to her wish, at the same time asking the dreaded question. “Why?”

Hippity was prepared. She hadn’t pondered all day for nothing.

“Yesterday Susie Black said she was going to have a birthday in two months. When’s two months?”

Unsuspectingly Daddy was led into the trap. He put a cross on the important date. 

She carried her calendar carefully to her room. By marking each day as it passed, she would be able to work more intelligently toward the fulfillment of her plan.

Hippity-hop knew they were all watching her, knew that she must not divulge her secret, and her need enveloped her perturbation in a husk of unconscious theatrical effort. The crystal transparency of her soul was befogged by a hidden purpose. 

Dick had grown even more quiet and serious. He and Jerry didn’t play tennis so often, nor did Jerry come to the house quite so frequently. There was a constraint between the boys when they were together. Hippity-hop found it an effort to be polite to the sullen, glowering youth when he came. She could not forgive him; she blamed him for the change in her dear brother, her teasing, romping, laughing Dick, who had become silent, morose, furtive. When Jerry did come, Dick and he remained closeted in the study. They said they had to dig for examinations. Muvver and Daddy believed them, but Hippity-hop, although she heard no more angry words, knew better.

Muvver chided her gently when she discovered her standing indeterminately first on one foot, then the other, her hands locked behind, her face, unmantled of courtesy, obviously expressing repulsion. Jerry’s hand was extended to her in welcome.

“Shake hands with Jerry, Elizabeth.”

Coldly, distrustfully, she allowed her hand to rest in Jerry’s for a moment. 

Mother looked at the little girl reproachfully, and apologetically addressed Jerry.

“Elizabeth hasn’t been very well lately. I’m worried about her. Her father and I have been seriously considering taking her out of school for a while.”

Fear clutched the child’s heart. She would have to pull herself together. Taking her out of school would mean being deprived of the money which Muvver gave her for the Red Cross and Thrift stamps.

To be continued…

This story continues in the next two blog posts. Click the title to see The Little Miser Part 2.

Decorations and Decor · The Creative Corner · Vintage Needlework

Make Spring Felt Bookmarks

Whether you need a quick 1950s party favor, a pretty placeholder for your reading material, or you need a rainy day craft project, these 1950s spring-themed felt bookmarks solve your problem. All you need is a tiny bit of felt, a needle and embroidery thread, some yarn, and a crochet hook.

Spring felt bookmarks. A tulip in a vase, two butterflies, and two brown-eyed susans.
Make some happy spring bookmarks from felt

I love working with felt. It doesn’t fray, it comes in bright colors, and a little bit goes a long way. One 9 x 12 inch sheet of felt makes several small things, which is really nice if you want a party favor or something small to include in mailed greeting cards. Choose one design, pick a couple colors, and make a bunch of them. Or dive in, purchase an assortment of coordinated felt pieces, and have a blast making all the felt things.

Two spring felt bookmarks, one with two strawberries and one with two plums. The felt pieces are attached to a length of green yarn.
And even more happy spring bookmarks. All made from felt and yarn.

To show off this pattern, I made one of each design. My favorites while I was making them were the strawberries and the plums. Once complete, however, I like the butterflies and the tulips the best. I followed the directions, using two strands of yarn (DK/sport weight) for the butterflies and one strand of the same weight for the fruit. If I were making this again I would use two strands for the fruit as well. (You can do this from one small ball of yarn by finding both ends and pulling from them at the same time to make your two strands.)

Let’s Talk Felt

Two butterfly shapes, two strawberry shapes, and two plum shapes cut from felt.
This is 2 mm thick felt. Not your general cheap flimsy craft felt.

Now let’s talk about felt. When you start to replicate older patterns and you use the felt you pick up at the craft store, it seems thin. It flops. It drapes over your hand. This is not sturdy felt. You can use it to make things, but your projects won’t turn out as well as they could.

Why? Because the felt of 1920-1960 was different. For one thing, it was made from wool. If it wasn’t made from wool, it was made from high quality rayon fibers, a blend of wool and rayon, or even cotton. What it wasn’t made from: acrylic or polyester.

Today’s craft felt is thin, wimpy, and made from acrylic or polyester. It does not hold a shape well, it’s difficult to work with, and sometimes you can even see through it! That is not the felt you need for a retro project. Using this quality felt for a 40’s or 50’s craft project, unless you double it for every piece, will end in disappointment.

Buying the Thick Stuff

If you want to make spring felt bookmarks, it needs old-style felt. For a retro project like this you need 2 mm craft felt. It can be a wool blend if you like. But fear not. If a wool allergy plagues you, 2mm felt is available in 100% polyester and it works great for projects like these. That’s what I used.

I found my polyester crafty felt at local craft shops like Michaels and Hobby Lobby. It will either be marked 2mm felt or it may be marked Premium or Heavy Duty. This felt holds its shape well, proves easy to cut, and is all-around a delight to work with. It only has two drawbacks. First, it costs a bit more than regular wimpy transparent craft felt. Second, and probably more important, it comes in a very limited color range.

Note: If you are making layered crafting projects, such as stuffed felt ornaments for the holidays, then 1mm 100% wool works beautifully. Most retro or vintage projects, however, require a stiffer felt.

If you have a particular project in mind, this is when you hop on the Internet and do some online shopping. Take a look at Living Felt, The Felt Pod, Weir Crafts, or My Felt Lady in the UK. Felt and Craft sells a wool blend felt with wool and rayon. Most of these listed sell felt with various thickness from 1mm – 3mm. I haven’t tried any of them, but I placed an order with Weir Crafts to try their felt. If you prefer Amazon, many of these felts can be purchased via Amazon as well.

On to the Projects…

Was all that necessary? Yes, if you want a nice project when you’re finished. I spent years playing with felt, and general crafting felt gets lighter and more flimsy each and every year. In order to continue enjoying the craft I needed to do some research and make a change. Actually, the impetus for this came by an unusual find.

While leafing through old magazines and patterns one day, I came upon an envelope addressed to my husband’s grandmother. This envelope arrived at her house sometime in the mid to late 1940s. On the front someone had penciled the word green. Opening it, I found a genuine 1940s piece of felt and a small pattern. The felt was in fern/avocado green.

And this felt felt different. It had body. Substance. In fact, it felt quite stiff, even after 70 years in the envelope. I could imagine myself cutting this and using it for the included lapel pin pattern. That’s when I realized that the felt of yesteryear was not the felt we are buying today. Decent felt is more expensive, but it lasts so long when used for tiny vintage projects that the cost evaporates over time. Making ten small projects from an 8 x 10-inch piece of all wool felt takes the $4.00 cost down to $0.40 per project, more than reasonable as a crafting cost.

You Will Need

One of the great things about these vintage patterns is that you don’t need to purchase Color Number 783.5 of anything in order to complete a project. These designs were often brand independent, and they were definitely color independent. If you have embroidery floss that will work, use it. If you want to make the plums and all you have is light purple felt, go for it. That’s all I had and mine turned out great. If you want yellow strawberries because you have yellow felt and no red felt, make yellow strawberries. Part of the artistry included choosing your own colors for your makes. You can make spring felt bookmarks with whatever you have on hand, or what you can easily get.

  • Felt in green, yellow, purple, red, brown, and any color you like for the butterflies, tulip, and tulip pot.
  • Embroidery thread in white, yellow, brown, green. I used colors from a handful of generic six-strand embroidery thread I found lying around. I used two strands for embroidery and one strand for sewing. Be gentle; embroidery thread can break if you pull too hard.
  • Yarn. I used sport/DK weight that I had, in green. For the butterflies I used pink and purple to match them.
  • A crochet hook to match your yarn weight, either 3.5 or 4 mm. If you can’t crochet, cut three strands and make a braid. Works just as well.
  • Scissors
  • Pencil, pins, or thin sewing needle to pin your pattern down
  • The printed pattern

How to Make Them

Drawing with shapes to make spring felt bookmarks.
Pattern for spring felt bookmarks.

This project comes from a public domain 1950s craft magazine. Options include a potted tulip, butterflies, strawberries, plums, and brown-eyed susans. Here’s how to do it:

  1. Print the pattern. You may need to enlarge it so that it measures about 5 inches by 8 inches.
  2. Cut out the pattern pieces. You’ll notice that each piece is marked with the number of pieces you need to cut from each pattern.

The Tulip

Pieces for a tulip bookmark: yellow flower, stem, and blue pot all cut from felt.
Tulip bookmark pieces, cut and ready to go.
  1. For the tulip, cut the tulip flower, the stem piece from green, and the flower pot.
  2. Cut a contrasting band to fit across the flowerpot stripe.
  3. Stitch the band to the front of the pot.
  4. Attach the tulip to the top of the stem and the pot to the bottom, under the leaves.

The Brown-Eyed Susans

Felt pieces cut into yellow stars with eight points, smaller brown circles on top, and a green stem. These will make a flower bookmark.
Brown-eyed Susan parts, ready to make into a bookmark.
  1. Cut a 1.4-inch straight strip of green felt. Make it about eight inches long.
  2. Cut two yellow flower pieces.
  3. Cut two brown circle centers.
  4. Embroider the faces on the centers with yellow floss. For most of the face I used a feather stitch. This is like a laisy daisy stitch, but open instead of closed at the top.
  5. Sew the brown centers to the yellow flowers with small stitches in brown embroidery thread.

The Butterflies

  1. To make the butterflies, cut two butterflies and contrasting spots. You can see from the photo that I used pink and purple, cutting the pink butterfly’s spots from the purple felt and vice versa.
  2. Use two different colored strands of yarn to crochet a chain long enough that the butterflies will hang outside a book when closed. I used pink and purple to match my butterflies. [If you can’t crochet, then cut three strands of each color about 18 inches long. Place a knot about 1.5 inches from the end, and braid. Use one strand of each color in your 3-strand braid. When you reach the desired length, knot the end of the braid and cut off the excess about 1.5 inches from the end.]
  3. Knot both ends of your chain [or braid]. The loose ends form your butterfly’s antennae.
  4. Sew the chain along the middle of each butterfly. If you use a crocheted chain, notice that I sewed it upside down so that it looks like a braid. The backside of the crochet chain is seen; the front of the crochet (the loops) are facing the back of the bookmark.

The Strawberries

  1. Cut two strawberries from red.
  2. Use yellow embroidery thread to embroider the seeds along the berry. I didn’t bother to trace this, but simply did it by freehand. These are open laisy daisy stitches.
  3. Crochet a chain to form the middle of the bookmark from green yarn. I made mine about ten inches. Again, you can cut three strands and braid them. No one will ever know.
  4. Overlap the berry about 1/2 inch onto the chain, with the berry on top. Turn it over and sew the yarn onto the back of the berry. Repeat for the other side.
  5. For the strawberry stem, use green yarn and embroider three laisy daisy stitches along the top of the berry. Then make two yarn loops sticking up to show the rest of the stem.

The Plums

  1. Cut the two round plum pieces from purple felt.
  2. Crochet a chain to form the middle of the bookmark using green yarn. I made mine about ten inches. Again, you can cut three strands and braid them.
  3. Sew a plum to each end of the chain as you did for the strawberries.
  4. Use green thread or green yarn to embroider laisy daisy leaves on the top. I used embroidery thread; you use whatever you like.
Vintage Entertainment

The Sheik: A 1921 Blockbuster Movie

Rudolph Valentino stares ahead of him in The Sheik, a 1921 blockbuster silent film.
Rudolph Valentino as Ahmed Ben Hassan in The Sheik

As often as it appears in cultural references, I had never seen Rudolph Valentino in The Sheik. This 1921 silent movie truly turned into a blockbuster film. It grossed over one million dollars in ticket sales in 1921. Not a bad return for a movie that cost $200,000 to make. It was touted in the newspapers as a wildly popular film after its opening in October. And this was only Valentino’s second film. By 1926 he would be dead.

A Man, a Woman, a Second Man, a Romance!

The Sheik is classified as a desert romance. This romance genre knew popularity in the past, but its fashionableness waned by 1919 and apparently needed a revival. Enter The Sheik. The movie’s action takes place in the deserts of Algeria and in the town of Biskra. (In real life, Biskra is a capital city of Algeria.) Headstrong Lady Diana Mayo determines to travel by herself over the desert. However, she fails to reckon on Ahmed Ben Hassan. She meets Hassan, the Sheik, fleetingly before she leaves Biskra and he decides that she is the one for him.

You can imagine how the rest of the story plays out. (Or, if you can’t, maybe spending an hour and a half watching the movie would prove an interesting time.) There’s a Sheik, a Lady, a Doctor, and a cast of servants and followers.

Actress Agnes Ayres plays Lady Diana Mayo in The Sheik, a 1921 blockbuster silent film.
The lovely Agnes Ayres plays Lady Diana Mayo in The Sheik.

One of the marvelous aspects of modern technology is that you can bring vintage arts easily into your life. You don’t have to wait for a Twenties revival at your nearest retro movie house, if you even have one of those nearby. You can dip into vintage life and culture any time you like. Thanks to sites like YouTube and the Internet Archive, surviving silent movies like The Sheik are only a quick click away. A click on either highlighted link takes you directly to The Sheik, a 1921 blockbuster silent movie.

Cultural Context and The Sheik

Does the movie have cultural issues? Of course it does. First of all, it was made in 1921, during a time when viewers regarded anything outside industrialized city or rural town life as exotic. Second, don’t expect this movie to present Algeria in any realistic way. This is a fantasy, borne of the author’s memories of living in Algeria as a small child in the 1890s. You will see that clearly in one of the early scenes that present two cultured British characters discussing Lady Diana’s escapades. In addition, this is the Algeria of colonialism, and you will note references made to the French language throughout the film. The French governed Algeria from 1830 until the 1960s. Therefore, anyone watching this movie in 1921 would experience no surprise that many of the characters speak French. Of course they spoke French. It was French Algeria in 1921.

If You Want to Read the Book

The movie was adapted from a book by E. M. Hull. Edith Maud Hull was a British author, and The Sheik was her first book. Several other romances followed it, but The Sheik remains her best known work. Wildly popular when it was published, the book sold millions of copies. Read it here, at Project Gutenberg.

The Vintage Bookshelf

The Campfire Girls in the Maine Woods

Book cover image showing two girls at a campsite. They are carrying water and washing dishes. Two tents stand in the background and another woman tends a cookfire in front of the tents.

Subtitled or the Winnebagos Go Camping, this book is a young adult classic gem from 1916. The Campfire Girls in the Maine Woods, as the first of a ten-book series, tells about a small Camp Fire Girls group and their experiences camping together for the summer. The high school age girls share two tents, cook their own food, and design pageants. They gather round the Council Fire, hone new skills, and face adversity. Most of all, though, they form a strong community. They work together and come out stronger the other side.

Sahwah the swimmer, Hinpoha the curly-haired, and Migwan the writer gather with Chapa the chipmunk, Medmangi the medic, and Nakwisi the star maiden at a primitive camp in Maine. By the time we meet them they are seasoned Camp Fire girls and ready to meet the challenges of a summer away from home. They welcome Gladys, a city girl who feels much more comfortable in a dressmaker’s shop than she does in a tent. Through the summer several of them change as they progress through injuries, moments of bravery, and even thoughtlessness.

Their group leader, or Guardian, is also one of the teachers at the high school all of them attend, save Gladys, who attends private schools away from Cleveland during the year. The girls call her Nyoda. With a unique blend of care and wisdom Nyoda guides the girls through misunderstandings, skirmishes, and the occasional temper flare.

The Camp Fire Girls

The Camp Fire Girls movement started in 1910 as an attempt to get girls outdoors into nature, moving, and learning new skills. Boys participated in camping trips, and boys experienced the wonders of nature. Boys did things in 1910. The Camp Fire Girls organizers, Dr. Luther Halsey Gulick and Charlotte Vetter Gulick, believed that girls could do the same things. And so did many girls.

Girls watched their brothers go camping with the Boy Scouts while they stayed home. Cooking over an open fire sounded a lot more interesting than helping with the housework. And the Gulicks and some friends came to the rescue. They needed a framework that would hold the program together, and they decided that Native American culture and lore was just the thing. Of course, they could have also chosen Irish fairies, ancient Egypt, or varieties of owls. But Native American symbolism put an emphasis on nature as important and worth stewarding. Instead of badges, the girls worked for honors. An honor could be awarded for skill in home craft, health craft, camp craft, hand craft, nature lore, business, or patriotism.

Camp Fire Girls was the most inclusive organzation for girls available in its time. Any girl, from anywhere, could join and participate in the Camp Fire Girls.

I first read these in etext form and I loved them so much I found original hardbound copies of the entire series. It took me seven years, but I located them all.

Current culture, 1916 style

The Campfire Girls in the Maine Woods contains some current cultural references. For example, while a visiting professor watches one of the girls dive into the water, he comments ‘She’s a regular Annette Kellerman!’ This is a reference to the star of a 1914 Australian movie called Neptune’s Daughter. The movie is extant in tiny pieces, but not as a whole. This five-minute clip shows off Annette’s diving abilities.

Other phrases and concepts remind readers that the story is vintage. The girls dress in middys and bloomers, the athletic uniform of 1914-1930. Outdated terms appear occasionally.

Many “Campfire Girls” books were published between 1912 and 1936 by more than ten different publishers. Most of the ones I’ve attempted to read are, frankly, awful. The books by Hildegard Frey shine in comparison. These are the only Campfire Girls books that were endorsed by the Camp Fire Girls Association when they were published. And with good reason, because this book leads the reader into the culture of the club rather than attempting to tell a story about characters named Campfire Ann and Campfire Nan. (I made those names up, but you get the idea.)

Who was Hildegard G. Frey?

Hildegard G. Frey, also known as Hildegarde Gertrude Frey, lived in Cleveland, Ohio her entire life. It makes sense that she set her books there. Born in 1891, she started writing the Campfire Girls books in her twenties. She wrote ten Campfire Girls books which were published between 1916 and 1920, and then she stopped writing. The Campfire Girls books were the only ones she ever wrote. In 1930 she was working as a cartoonist for an advertising agency.

Writing the books between age 24 and 28 gives them a unique perspective for stories of the time. Hildegard never talked down to her younger readers, and she didn’t lecture them. She simply told her story of six campers, a new addition, and their leader.

Hildegard G. Frey died at the age of 65 on May 8, 1957, and is buried in Cleveland. In the 1940 census she is listed as living with her father in the family home.

Get Your Copy

How can you read this book for yourself? Download it from Project Gutenberg or Google Books.

History · The Magazine Rack

Magazines for Everyone

If you glance through the pages of the popular household magaazines from 1920-1940 something may dawn on you. It did me. These were magazines for everyone, as long as the woman reading them matched the editors’ ideal subscriber.

Each magazine, of course, had its own dream reader. Woman’s World, for instance, was for the Midwest reader. Needlecraft positioned itself for the lower-income reader – many of its projects could be completed with a little fabric, a crochet hook or knitting needles, and thread. Every magazine, from Good Housekeeping to Ladies’ Home Journal, had its intended readership.

A little girl holds her doll close as the cover image to Half-Century Magazine of December, 1922.
Cover image from The Half-Century Magazine, December 1922.

However, all these titles didn’t succeed as magazines for everyone. A good number of potential readers were excluded. For instance, although every magazine covered the national holidays and Christian holidays, no one printed a Passover menu for Jewish readers. They were on their own. Did the publishers just not think their readership would appreciate such an article, or did no one on the staff have the expertise to write it?

Half-Century Magazine

One glaring omission appeared in the African-American community. The women’s magazines featured dress models on the fashion pages that looked different from African-American family members, even though everyone dressed in the same styles. In 1916, Half-Century Magazine launched in Chicago and it filled that void. Half-Century Magazine used African-American models on its fashion pages. Only in publication for nine years, the magazine spoke to African-American homemakers. And frankly, it is a delight to read.

I don’t have any issues of Half-Century Magazine in their original paper format. Actual subscriptions never topped 16,000 so hard copies are difficult to find. In fact, when Negro Universities Press attempted to reprint the existing issues in 1969, it couldn’t find copies of all the issues. Paging through I found a placeholder which basically said “We couldn’t find this issue. If you know of a copy let us know and we will include it in a later printing.” They are that scarce.

Excellent Quality

They may be scarce, but they are excellent. An issue of Half-Century Magazine contained short stories, a serialized novel, current fashion, needlework patterns and sewing tips. Each month devoted a full half page to jokes and quips like this one:

“Yes, Bertha is going to marry for love.”
“How foolish!”
“Not at all. She had sense enough to fall in love with a millionaire.”

Half-Century Magazine, January 1920

If I had original copies of these magazines, I would love to reproduce the recipes from the cooking pages. Some of the recipes used inexpensive or unusual ingredients, like lamb’s kidneys. Others introduced innovative treatments of normal 1920s dishes, like adding nuts to a macaroni salad. Actually, quite a few I would love to recreate. One issue’s Tea Ring recipe in January, 1920, includes raisins but no yeast and would make a tremendous teatime or breakfast loaf.

Depending on the month of the year, subscribers read about dinner etiquette, household hints, and weight loss (an all-consuming seasonal topic in every woman’s magazine of the period). One issue illustrated current hairstyles, and the magazine offered a sewing pattern service to subscribers. Most issues included poetry.

Tackling Social Issues

The women’s magazines of the Twenties through the Forties took stands on various social issues within their pages, and Half-Century Magazine was no different. Its editors covered cultural and political issues. They published letters from subscribers who needed to vent. And a regular columnist answered questions about law and inheritance.

In short, everything a homemaker would need from month to month was included in Half-Century Magazine. I wish it had continued past 1925, but the publisher ceased publication in order to launch a newspaper he called the Chicago Bee. You can download the 1923 – 1925 years of Half-Century Magazine from Google Books and see for yourself.